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Episode 7: Where Three Women Cry, But Not Because Of Ven

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Welcome to Week Seven of Project Runway. If you're still pissed off at Ven because of his awful behavior last week, you'll be happy to know that we don't see too much of the designer this week. In fact, on this episode he only says one obnoxious thing. Well, they only show him saying one obnoxious thing. As we learned from Tim Gunn on Tuesday, what ends up on the cutting room floor may be even worse.

Anyway, in honor of the Tenth Season of Project Runway, for this week's challenge the designers must create an evening gown or cocktail dress. The winning dress will become the tenth piece in a special Project Runway eveningwear collection for Lord & Taylor. The collection includes dresses in the $200-$300 range by designers from all nine previous seasons of Project Runway. These include Bert Keeter (Season 9), Mondo Guerra (Season 8), Seth Aaron Henderson (Season 7), Gordana Gehlhausen (Season 6), Korto Momolu (Season 5), Chris March (Season 4) , Uli Herzner (Season 3), Nick Verreos (Season 2), and Jay McCaroll (Season 1). But if you think this is your chance to finally own an over-the-top Chris March creation, think again. These dresses are for mass production. They're pretty, but they're also pretty tame.

Which works fine for the male "Chiffonies," since they like designing feminine eveningwear. The women designers, however, are traumatized. The women feel that being forced into the constraints of designing commercial eveningwear, using only specified fabrics, is an impossible hurdle. Elena cries because she doesn't think she can take her self-proclaimed "avant-garde" and "couture" style and edit it down. Melissa cries because halfway through creating her design, she and Tim Gunn decide that she's chosen the wrong fabric. Sonjia cries because her trip to the bottom three last week decimated her confidence. And Alicia cries because—well, actually, Alicia doesn't cry, because, well, can you imagine Alicia crying? No. But she's also unhappy with the challenge, because she doesn't like making dresses. These mostly over-the-top reactions to what is a pretty typical challenge make us wonder if any of the aforementioned contestants had bothered to watch a whole season of Project Runway before they were cast.


Our Judges

Joining Michael and Nina this week is our guest judge, Lord & Taylor President Bonnie Brooks. What can we say about Bonnie—aside from the fact that we find her first name really easy to remember. Bonnie knows that Lord & Taylor's female customers want dresses that are, "in good taste." Oddly, this seems to include harnesses. But more on the garment from hell in a minute.


Winner Christopher Shreds Again

Our winner this week is Christopher, who tries to stand out from the rest of the designers by creating an evening gown instead of a cocktail dress. Once again, he uses his technique of layering shredded strips of raw-edge silk. He makes a gown that looks like separates: a sheer ballerina pink top, attached to a long black skirt. While the judges ding Chris for his repetition of technique, we'd like to point out that his shredding has made less appearances on the runway than Ven's folded rose motif—which also shows up again this week. Bonnie says that although Christopher's gown won't be a huge seller for the company, "It's a nice addition to the rest of the collection." We're guessing that unlike Christopher's model, most Lord & Taylor customers won't be going braless in that top.

Joining Christopher in the upper tier are three additional designers instead of just two. That group, for some inexplicable reason, does not include Dmitri, who once again creates one of the best designs of the episode. We'd make another Defense Against the Dark Arts joke, but even we're sick of the Harry Potter references. Judges, just give Dmitri a win already.


Fabio's Design

Fabio, wearing a lovely wreath of flowers in his hair, is also one of the top designers. He makes a simple, flattering, and very chic black sheath dress. It has an asymmetrical hem, and what is probably this season's eighth hundredth exposed zipper down the back. Yes, we get that exposed zippers are easier to sew in a short amount of time, but must they be a design element every week? Yawn.


Melissa's Design

Melissa, despite her tears, is also in the top four—with a dress made out of her original brocade. Ironically, Michael responds with, "The right fabric for the right dress." Once again Melissa goes for an unusual neckline. This one is slightly reminiscent of a guillotine. The dress is cute, but really tight-fitting. We can't imagine many Lord & Taylor customers pulling it off.


Elena's Design

And then there is our fourth top designer. Amazingly, it's Elena. Despite her earlier hysteria, the judges like her design. This tells us that the judges must have dropped acid, which made them hallucinate a nicer dress. Elena's creation is a baggy, ill-fitting black baby doll dress, with a badly fitted bulky harness over it. Hervé Léger showed leather harnesses over his runway dresses this past February, but those were leather, slim and well fitted. This harness is bulky and looks more like the racer back of a Speedo bathing suit. The dress should have been in the bottom. Bonnie Brooks says, "I like it, but it may be for a more specific customer." Yeah, a blind one. The photo above does not do the horror justice.


Alicia's Design

Our bottom two this week include Alicia, whose sporty drop waist cocktail dress was inspired by Chanel. Unfortunately, Michael thinks it looks like it was inspired by, "A field hockey uniform." Nina just finds it mature and dowdy. While we don't love it, we'd put it miles above Elena's complicated fiasco.


Gunnar Resurrected Again

The last designer left standing on the runway is Gunnar,, who initially bragged about how well he knows the Lord & Taylor customer. Unfortunately the judges think his classy design looks too much like something you would buy at Lord & Taylor. His dress is actually nice, just not cutting edge. Gunnar manages to shy away from his tendency to make everything he does look "like a matador" and creates a very well-tailored sequin and lace black dress.

Fortunately for Gunnar, the judges think that all of this week's designs are good. So good, that they decide not to get rid of any designers. Or at least that's what they say. We're guessing that the fact that early this season they lost too many designers, added to the fact that they need three teams of three for next week's competition, might also have had something to do with their generosity. Gunnar says that while he wishes someone had gone home this week, since it probably would have been him, he's just fine with the judges' decision.
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